Three years after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a month after federal investigators found widespread racial discrimination by city law enforcement officers, a Minnesota judge has approved a reform agreement between the state human rights department and the city’s police.
The agreement approved July 13 by Hennepin County District Court Judge Karen Janisch provides for an independent community commission to oversee the Minneapolis Police Department and mandates policing reforms.
Under the decree, police are no longer allowed to conduct consent searches on pedestrians or vehicles, nor searches based on the apparent smell of marijuana. Officers are also required to de-escalate and have been limited in their use of tasers and chemical irritants such as pepper spray.
Minneapolis police also face federal oversight under a consent decree announced last month that followed a investigation the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launched after white former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck in 2020 spurring widespread global protests against racism.
Toussaint Morrison, a Minneapolis community organizer, said Monday that while he welcomed the independent oversight of the police and steps taken by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to mandate change, he was going to remain only cautiously optimistic.
“But do I believe it’s going to be enough?” he said. “No, I don’t think it’s going to be enough.”
Under the July 13 agreement, Minneapolis city and police officials have 60 days to put together implementation teams.
Negotiating the federal consent decree, meanwhile, is expected to take several months, officials have said.
“The agreement captures the scope of the necessary work ahead to address race-based policing, a plague on our City that harms everyone, especially people of color and Indigenous community members,” Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in a press release.
Her department had conducted its own investigation into Minneapolis police after last year announcing it had found probable cause to believe that the Minnesota Human Rights Act had been violated. It worked with the city and its police department on the agreement approved by Judge Janisch.